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Claudia and Monday have been friends since childhood. When Claudia returns from summer vacation, Monday isn’t at school, and she’s not returning calls. No one seems to know where she is. Claudia knows something is wrong, but what reason would anyone have to lie about Monday ’s whereabouts?
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers--especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami's determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school's slam poetry club, she doesn't know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can't stop thinking about performing her poems. Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.<
Jordan Banks is anxious about being the new kid at Riverdale, especially since he'd rather be going to art school. He's even more nervous when he realizes that, unlike in his Washington Heights neighborhood, at Riverdale, he's one of the few kids of color. Despite some setbacks, Jordan eventually makes a few friends and chronicles his experiences in his sketch pad. This is more than a story about being the new kid—it's a complex examination of the micro- and macroaggressions that Jordan endures from classmates and teachers.
Sixteen-year-old Catholic Stefania Podgorska has worked in the Diamant family's grocery store for four years, even falling in love with one of their sons, Izio; but when the Nazis came to Przemyl, Poland, the Jewish Diamants are forced into the ghetto (and worse) but Izio's brother Max manages to escape, and Stefania embarks on a dangerous course--protecting thirteen Jews in her attic, caring for her younger sister, Helena, and keeping everything secret from the two Nazi officers who are living in her house.
Genesis comes home from school to find her family's belongings on the lawn; they've been evicted again . Her father promises that this next time will be different, renting a house in the suburbs and promising that he will get a promotion at work so they can afford it. At school, Genesis makes friends for the first time and is mentored by Mrs. Hill, the choir teacher, but Genesis's father still drinks too much and her parents' marriage is unraveling. Genesis tries lightening her skin, begs to be able to use relaxer in her hair, and keeps a list of things she hates about herself, believing that if she only looked like her light-skinned mother and not her dark-skinned father, the situation at home would improve.